Engelbert Humperdinck coming to R.I. during his 50th-anniversary tour
By Susan McDonald / Special to The Journal, Providence Journal
Posted Apr 5, 2018 at 9:00 PM
The crooner will perform at Cranston’s Park Theatre.
After more than 50 years of crooning sexy ballads and love songs that filled almost 100 albums, Engelbert Humperdinck says he still isn’t quite the man he wants to be.
“I always feel discontent, like there’s somewhere else to go, somewhere else to be. I’m a very ambitious person,” Humperdinck said recently in a phone call from his California home.
The 81-year-old balladeer known for such hits as “After the Lovin’ ” and “Release Me” has spent five decades on an often grueling touring and recording schedule.
“If I’m off the road, I get itchy feet,” he said with a laugh. “It’s my work, my job. I don’t know the word ‘retirement.’ As long as I can make albums, I will.”
Humperdinck says he loves that “certain magic that happens” every time he steps on stage.
“The adoration I get from fans is amazing. It’s been a wonderful journey,” he says.
Born Arnold George Dorsey, Humperdinck grew up in India, where his father was stationed during World War II. The family later moved to Leicester, England, where he studied music and played the saxophone. A former manager suggested his stage name, after the 19th-century German composer of the same name.
On his current tour, Humperdinck is promoting his new album, “The Man I Want to Be,” which was released in November.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever recorded,” he said.
The album includes new material and covers “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran and “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. The two covers reflect Humperdinck’s desire to stay current. He said watching such TV singing competitions as “The Voice” helps with this.
“The contestants are usually singing what’s up to date,” he said.
Humperdinck said he remembers seeing Mars as a 5-year-old performing at a party in Hawaii.
“He was in a little Elvis suit and I told him, ‘Young man, you’re going to be a massive star,’ ” he said. “It’s the same feeling I have about my 9-year-old granddaughter, Olivia, who sings a duet with me on this album. I think she’s a female Bruno Mars. She’s just amazing.”
In his typical style, though, Humperdinck makes the songs by Sheeran and Mars his own. With Olivia, he sings “I’m Glad I Danced with You,” which he calls a love letter to his wife, Patricia, who has Alzheimer’s disease. They met at a dance hall when she was just 17, and have been married for 53 years.
Every one of Humperdinck’s shows — he still performs about 80 a year, a decrease from the 300 or more he did at one point — manages to pack a punch as Humperdinck mixes hits like “The Last Waltz,” “A Man Without Love” and “I’m a Better Man (For Having Loved You)” with his newer material, some of which was written by Richard Marx, Steve Mac and the crooner’s daughter Louise Dorsey.
“I never wanted to be a movie star because it takes up too much of your time. I prefer the style of touring and making new music,” Humperdinck said.
— Susan McDonald is a regular contributor to The Providence Journal. She can be reached at Sewsoo1@verizon.net.
If you go ...
Who: Engelbert Humperdinck
When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 13
Where: Park Theatre, 848 Park Ave., Cranston
Information: (401) 467-7275, parktheatreri.com